Who Pays the Credit Card Bills in a Divorce?

When you file for a divorce, you likely understand that you and your spouse will have to decide issues regarding the final disposition of assets and debts, plans for legal decision-making and parenting time for children, and support for children or one or the other spouse. You will also have to consider how to pay community bills that may be in both parties’ names. So, who will pay the credit card bills in a divorce?

Dividing Marital Property

Arizona divides community property equitably between each spouse in a divorce.  An “equitable” division generally means an “equal” division with some exceptions. This same concept is used to divide bills acquired in a marriage as well. The court assumes debts incurred during a marriage were intended to benefit the “community,” so the couple becomes jointly responsible for them with few exceptions.

Dividing responsibility for a debt in both parties’ names can be tricky.  Preferably, the parties would close the account and try to “roll over” the halves of the debt into each respective party’s name.  Sometimes this can be accomplished with a balance transfer (from one credit card to another).  If a balance transfer cannot occur, it may be advisable for one party to “buy out” their share of the debt by paying a lump sum representing their half of the debt either directly to the creditor or to the other spouse.  When neither of these options are feasible, parties may have to continue making payments on the debt together – either by alternating months of payments or by each party making a half payment on an established monthly amount (the minimum payment due, for instance).

What If My Spouse Doesn’t Pay?

While your divorce decree is a legally binding document, it doesn’t require creditors to comply with it. If you and your spouse are jointly liable to pay a credit card, but your spouse has not made payments, the credit card company can go after you for payment. You may not want to pay because it’s not your responsibility, but failing to pay a bill can have a negative effect on your credit, not just your spouse’s.

A spouse who pays a debt that was owed by the other spouse does have the right to be reimbursed. The spouse with a grievance can file to enforce the Decree and seek reimbursement and other sanctions against the other spouse.

Call a Divorce Attorney for Help

If you need help figuring out your community property and debts, or your spouse is refusing to make good on a credit card debt they are legally obligated to pay, you should contact an attorney. The divorce attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC have helped numerous people in your situation. Let us see what we can do for you.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Credit Card Bills in a Divorce, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.